UKRAINIAN VILLAGE — An Asian-American woman's experience with racism in the U.S. — including on the "L" — is examined in an independent short movie being filmed in a project by the Bridgeport Film Club.
"Self-Deportation: The Untold Tale of a Marginal Woman" is a project from Bridgeport playwright and producer Lance Eliot Adams and Eugene Sun Park, a West Town filmmaker who wrote the script and is now directing the film. The pair met at Chicago Filmmakers, an Andersonville arts group that hosts screening and discussions. Cynthia Bond is also a co-producer.
Their film follows the plight of a young Asian-American character (played by actress Wanda Jin) who encounters casual and explicit racism on the "L" and is ultimately told to go back where she came from.
So she builds a box, climbs inside and deports herself, setting in motion a fantastical, choreographed journey that begins with a farewell tour to American archetypes placed inside their own boxes — oily politicians, a perky cheerleader and a happy white family among them — and ends with the character back where she came from: America. (See the full cast here.)
Jin, 24, of the West Loop, beat out hundreds of other Asian-American actors for the role. She said she was drawn to the script because it neither asked her to "whitewash" by acting Caucasian nor hinted that she had to act combative in her response to everyday bigotry.
"It's about all people who feel marginalized," she said.
While some scenes were shot on the CTA Red Line, most of the filming is taking place inside Space 1858, a multipurpose building in Ukrainian Village.
That's where the filmmakers and a cadre of volunteers have built ornate, compartmentalized sets, each serving as a backdrop for the stages of the dream-like sequences.
"Self-Deportation" is the biggest project for each of the budding filmmakers.
Adams, who founded the nascent Bridgeport Film Club, has filmed his web series around the neighborhood and hopes his latest project leads to more collaborations.
Park said "Self-Deportation" has been a hands-on lesson in the art of directing a movie, which he likened to launching a small business, complete with delegating responsibility and finding the right talent.
"It's a continual process of self-discovery," he said.
Filming is expected to wrap up soon. Park said "Self-Deportation" is already scheduled to screen in Chicago this fall. After that, the filmmakers plan to shop it around the festival circuit.
The cast and crew are throwing a wrap party on Jan. 31, where the actors will recreate scenes inside the surreal set inside Space 1848, 1848 W. Grand Ave. A $5 donation is suggested.